Warren speaking with Rand Paul about a White House Council on Boys and Men

warren-paul-reg

When the White House created only a White House Council on Women and Girls in 2009, it left out the other half of the family: Boys and Men. Dr. Warren Farrell organized national leaders into a coalition to create a White House Council on Boys and Men. On April 26, 2015, members went to Iowa and spoke personally with seven of the Republican presidential candidates to invite them to a conference in Iowa this July to listen to boys, parents and experts explain the boy crisis and consider a White House Council on Boys and Men as a coordinator of solutions. Here Farrell discusses with Rand Paul the importance of fathers as a way to strengthen the family and reduce “government-as-a-substitute-dad”. A few minutes later, Paul spoke with 1700 Republicans at the Faith and Freedom Coalition and stressed the importance of fathers.

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Warren Farrell Explains Why a White House Council on Boys and Men Helps Cut Govt. Costs

 

In this video, Dr. Farrell explains how a White House Council on Boys and Men, by strengthening father involvement and the family, reduces the need for the government-as-substitute husband:

 

 





Newtown Shootings: Warren Farrell Offers New Ideas of What May Help

“It is time that we go beyond fighting over guns and to raising our Sons”.

Newtown Shooting – Warren Farrell offers a core issue beyond the Gun Control issue about the absence of support for boys and young men and why we need a White House Council on Boys and Men. See Warren Farrell original article called: “Guns don’t kill people — our sons do” – “After Newtown, Conn., parents cried out, “What’s making our children kill?” But it is not our children who are killing. It is our sons. All but one of the 62 mass killings in the past 30 years was committed by boys or men.”

Connect to:
Warren Farrell on Google Plus
Martin Brossman on Google Plus at: Google Plus

 

Grading President Obama on his Treatment of Men’s Issues

This article is in response to an article that appeared on Huffington Post that graded President Obama on women’s issues. I thought it was only fair to also have one for men.  Many of the categories and even some of the wording come directly from that article.

Here we go.

 

1. White House Council on Women and Girls A
   White House Council on Boys and Men Fail

Women have good reason to be grateful to the Obama administration. President Obama created a White House Council on Women and Girls that made women’s issues an integral part of every level of the federal government.  Now each department must address their progress or lack of progress as it relates to women and their issues.  This is a powerful and glorious step for women and girls.  However, the Obama administration has failed miserably in creating a similar opportunity for boys and men.  A group of over 30 nationally known scholars, authors, researchers, and clinicians gathered to write a proposal urging the White House to offer the same sort of opportunity for our boys and men but after meetings with White House Staff and numerous officials it has been ignored at every level.  President Obama met with one of those thirty and refused to even have the issue on the agenda for their meeting. Fail

whitehouseboysmen.org

2. Equal Pay: Fail

Here’s the bottom line: the Obama administration failed men and women on equal pay. He is a president who entered office with the claimed intention of using science as a guide in his administration and his policy.  Even a brief look at the science surrounding the issue of equal pay would indicate that the discriminatory nature of what is being called the “wage gap” is truly a myth.  The government science and statistics drive this point home but this administration not only refuses to accept its own science, it makes public statements that defy its own facts. Fail

Warren Farrell’s Why Men Earn More

3. Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls: A
    Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys: Fail

The Obama administration gets major cred for taking on the escalating crisis of violence against teenage and college women. However it fails in an epic manner when it comes to teenage and college boys and men for whom it has done nothing.  The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report states clearly that in the last 12 months 2,747,000 women have experienced sexual violence other than rape. Importantly the same report shows that there were even more men who experienced sexual violence (2,793,000) in the last 12 months other than rape.  http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf  (tables 4.5 and 4.6) The science shows that men and boys are a major part of the victims of sexual violence but the policy focuses only on helping women. Fail

 

4. Violence Against Women  A
    Violence Against Men  Fail 

Obama and Biden have also voiced support for the reauthorization of the VAWA. (Violence Against Women Act)  This bill has been shown repeatedly by credible research to ignore a large portion of victims and perpetrators. It serves female victims but ignores and even shames males who are victimized (see table 3) and also ignores female perpetrators.  The bill is by name, only interested in helping women and it functions in a similar manner. Men in need are ignored.  Both President Obama and VP Biden took part in a television commercial asking men to curb violence against women. This would be fine if they also were part of a commercial asking women to curb violence against men.  They did no such thing. Fail

 

5. Reproductive Rights for Men: Fail

President Obama mentions the issues of women’s reproductive rights on a regular basis.  This is good, however, he continues to ignore the fact that men have no reproductive rights whatsoever. How many men have had to stand powerless as their child is aborted against their will?  Women are allowed to obtain an abortion, give up the child for adoption, have the child, or even drop the infant off at a police station.They have the right to do all of the above while men must go along with whatever the woman decides and have no rights of their own other than having to pay child support. Fail

 

6. Jobs: D+

When it came time to offer funds and support for those seeking employment during the crisis of our economic downturn the president had a “shovel ready” plan in place.  The feminine sections complained greatly and even though this has been known to be a “mancession” the president altered his shovel ready plans and spent a good deal of the money on jobs for women, 42% of the money went to female jobs even though women were only 20% of those impacted.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/659dkrod.asp

 

7. Fatherhood: Fail

There are millions of men in the United States who have suffered under the weight of a biased family court system. One would expect our president to have some words of support for these men. However, President Obama on Father’s Day calls out fathers and says, “Too many fathers are awol. “ “They have abandoned their responsibilities and are acting like boys instead of men.”  His Fathers Day speeches have been littered with this sort of verbiage about how fathers need to step up to the plate.  His main idea is not to celebrate the fathers and their many contributions in our lives but to point towards those who need to improve. Happy Father’s Day.  Imagine he did something similar on Mothers Day and told mothers they need to step up to the plate and stop abusing their children. All hell would break loose. Fail

 

8. Health Care Fail

This administration has web pages for girls health girlshealth.gov and women’s health womenshealth.gov but none for boys or men.  When you go to boyshealth.gov or menshealth.gov you get a “404” file not found error. (try them and see for yourself) There is no government sponsored page for boys or for men.  This is an insult to boys and men and shows how this administration is simply not interested in helping men and boys but is very active in doing everything it can to be of help to women and girls. Have a look at this government page that lists the preventive care that is included in Obama’s national health package. Plenty of preventive care for women and children but not a thing about prostate cancer, testicular cancer, or other male specific diseases.

http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/07/preventive-services-list.html

Is there any sort of national program to help suicidal males? No. Men and boys are nearly 80% of completed suicides and yet there is no interest in working on this crisis. Fail

 

Final Grade

The above shows a clearly womanitarian stance that considers women and children first and ignores the needs of men. Clearly it is a failed report card for this administration.   It is worth pointing out that they are not alone or unique.  The fact is that for decades our government has ignored the pain and needs of its men and boys.  This is not a new phenomenon.  What we need is a president who is truly humanitarian and able to see both sides and offer love and support for all people, not just for select groups.  I don’t see Obama’s opponent as being a solution.  He too, if elected, will likely carry on the same misandry.  It is going to take a very strong shift in our cultural thinking in order to even make a dent in the unfairness and bigotry that is now accepted by nearly everyone.



Tom Golden

Thomas Golden, LCSW is well known in the field of healing from loss. His book, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing has been acclaimed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and others. Tom enjoys giving workshops in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, having been named the “1999 International Grief Educator” by the Australian Centre for Grief Education. Drawing on thirty years of practical, hands-on clinical experience, Tom brings a gentle sense of humor and a gift for storytelling to both his workshops and his writing. His work and his web site webhealing.com have been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and U.S. News and World Report, as well as on CNN, CBS Evening News, ESPN and the NFL Channel. Tom served as the vice-chair for the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health and has also enjoyed helping write a proposal for a White House Council on Boys and Men. He is in private practice in Gaithersburg, MD and also enjoys doing Skype consults. Google+

Honor Our Fathers: A Totally True Story of Sons and Gangs

by Jack Kammer

This could be dangerous, I thought. This is Los Angeles, early June 1992. The Rodney King riots had occurred just five weeks before.

Stranded and alone, hauling a heavy suitcase, I was running late for my plane at LAX. I decided that this was a chance I needed, no, wanted to take. I approached three young Hispanic men standing outside their car in a fast food parking lot.

Warily, I approached them. “How ya doing?” I said calmly and evenly. “I’m trying to get to LAX and I’m running late. The cabs aren’t cooperating. How much money would you need to take me?”

They looked at each other. One of them in a white T-shirt said to the one who must have been the driver, “Go for it, man.”

The driver hesitated. I said, “Name a price that makes it worth your while.”

He looked straight at me. “Ten bucks,” he said.

“I’ll give you twenty.”

“Let’s do it, man,” said the T-shirted youth. The driver nodded and popped the trunk. “You wanna put your suitcase here?”

“No, thanks,” I answered straight back. The image of being forced empty-handed out of the car was clear in my mind. “I’d rather keep it with me.”

“That’s cool,” Mr. T-shirt said.

I knew it could have been stupid, but I took out my wallet, removed a twenty and said to the driver, “Here, I want to pay you now.”

The driver took it with a simple “thanks.”

“So here I am, guys,” I said. “I sure hope you’re going to take care of me.”

T-shirt, sitting in the back seat with me, my suitcase between us, smiled knowingly and said, “It’s okay, man. We’re good guys.”

I nodded and shrugged, “I sure hope so, because if you’re not, I’m in big trouble, aren’t I?”

They all laughed and then T-shirt spoke up. “So where you from?”

“Baltimore,” I answered.

“Oh, man, it’s nice back east. That’s what they say. Green and everything.”

I smiled and nodded, “Yeah. And back east, L.A. is our idea of heaven.”

“Naah, it’s rough here, man. It’s hard.” T-shirt was clearly going to be the spokesman.

“How old are you fellows?” I asked.

They were sixteen and seventeen. They were all in school and had part-time jobs. T-shirt and the driver worked in a restaurant. The quiet young man riding shotgun didn’t say.

“Tell me about the gangs. Are there gangs at your school?”

“There’s gangs everywhere, man. Everywhere. It’s crazy.”

“Are you fellows in a gang?” I asked.

“No way, man.”

“Why not?” I wondered.

“Because there’s no hope in it. You just get a bullet in your head.”

“Yeah, but what hope is there for you outside the gang?”

“I don’t know. I just want to get a future. Do something.”

“What’s the difference between you and the young men in the gangs?”

“I don’t know, man. We just don’t want to do it.”

“Yeah, but why not? What’s the difference?” I gently pressed.

“I don’t know, man. I don’t know. We’re just lucky I guess.”

I let the question sit for a moment, then started up. “What about fathers? Do you have a father at home?” I asked the youth in the back seat with me.

“Yeah. I do.”

“How about you?” I asked the driver.

“Yeah, I got a dad.”

“Living with you?”

“Yeah.”

And the shotgun rider volunteered, “I got a dad, too.”

“How about the young men in the gangs? Do they have fathers living with them?”

“No way, man. None of them do.”

“So maybe fathers make a difference?” I suggested.

“Absolutely, man. Absolutely.”

“Why?” I probed. “What difference does a father make?”

“He’s always behind you, man, pushing you. Keeping you in line.”

“Yeah. Telling you what’s what,” driver and shotgun agreed.

And with that I was taken safely right where I needed to go. The driver even asked what terminal I wanted. On time. Without a hitch.

I will never forget their names: Pablo, Juan and Richard. I admired them because in spite of everything they were trying to be good.

But the men to whom I am most grateful are the men I never met. The men to whom I am most grateful are their fathers. It was their fathers who got me to the airport. It was their fathers who kept me safe.

Jack Kammer
Jack Kammer

Jack Kammer, MSW, MBA returned to school at the age of fifty-four to earn Masters degrees in Social Work and Business Administration. He did so to document, highlight and take action on male gender issues and the social problems that arise when those issues are ignored and mishandled. He specializes in the Race + Gender effect on marginalized African-American men and boys in urban settings. http://believeinmen.org

Expanding What We Mean by “Nurturing” – Excerpt from Michael Gurian’s new book “How Do I Help Him”

             In observing males and studying anthropological and neuro-biological information regarding male behavior, I developed the term “aggression nurturance” in 1995 in order to try to help professionals and parents look at males more closely.  My specific interest lay in hoping to accurately describe differences between the ways males and females nurture others and themselves toward self-confidence.

In both rural and urban environments in the United States, then in comparative research during two years in both rural and urban environments in Turkey, I observed that males (such as fathers) tended to nurture themselves and others through more direct aggression than females, with less emphasis on distended verbal nurturance, i.e. when they used words, they used them in quick bursts not long paragraphs.  Females, in general, tended to nurture themselves and others through less direct aggression than males, substituting more direct empathic responses to particular situations, and utilizing more distended word groupings.  Though my research goal was somewhat different than theirs, my ultimate outcome mirrors the work of Pepper Schwartz at the University of Washington and Deborah Tannen, in You Just Don’t Understand.

By now, in 2011, everyone has perhaps observed this kind of difference anecdotally, in their own lives.  But still, let’s illustrate it.  Here is a piece of dialogue I heard recently at a local park as two teenage boys walked off a basketball court.  When they parted company to go to their separate cars, they said:

“Right, then.  Later.”

“Yeah.  Love you, dude.”

“Stop it, fucker!”

“Yeah.  Peace, man.”

“Peace.”

Grinning, they both got into their cars.

Perhaps some part of why they grinned was from sheepishness at this intimate ritual being seen and heard by a gray-haired stranger, me, walking by.  But no matter the reasons for nuance, this kind of basic male ritual occurs all over the world.  It involves one-upping, masking-of-vulnerability, aggression, a mock show of anger, deep nurturance, and clear mutual love.

This kind of ritual is an example of what I call aggression nurturance.  This nurturance style, one based in male brain functioning, male biochemistry, and male socialization differs from direct empathy nurturance, which favors female biology, chemistry, and socialization.  Thus, while aggression nurturance can happen between two girls, it is more likely to go on between boys and men, for some very natural reasons.

___________________________________

Excerpted from HOW DO I HELP HIM?:  A Practitioner’s Guide To Working With Boys And Men In Therapeutic Settings by Michael Gurian.  For more information, visit http://www.michaelgurian.com/how-do-I-help-him.html.

Michael Gurian
Michael Gurian

Michael Gurian is a family therapist, child advocate, and the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including The Minds of Boys, Boys and Girls Learn Differently! and The Wonder of Girls. Over the last twenty years, he has advocated relentlessly for boy-friendly research in the public dialogue. The Gurian Institute has provided teacher effectiveness training to over fifty thousand teachers in two thousands schools and districts. gurianinstitute.com

Boys in school: Why Don’t We Pay Attention to the Facts?

David Greene

My son was born in 1990. By the time he was approaching kindergarten, we had to decide if he was to be one of those male kindergarten redshirts, held back a year to “mature”. We decided against it. He was a very bright and very tall boy. We felt holding him back would indeed, hold him back. What happened was eye opening. In pre-school and kindergarten teachers thought he was “hyperactive.” My wife is a clinical psychologist. She and I knew better. He was a boy. He acted differently than our daughter from his earliest human moments. Eventually we were proven right. He did fine in school. He was constantly described as very mature. A top student and athlete, he is now a pre-med senior in college.

During the 1990’s a great deal of emphasis had been placed on improving the education of girls. Books like Reviving Ophelia, the work of Carol Gilligan, and the political pressure placed on policy makers by organizations such as the National Organization of Women (NOW) made girls’ education a top reform of the early and mid ‘90s. Much of this was very important and good policy. We worked hard on that reform, had workshops, read the research, and changed classroom behaviors to allow girls to be more assertive and improve their work. It was all good.

One afternoon in 1995 we had one of our monthly faculty conferences. It was on the subject of female experiences in the school, under the guise of “gender issues”. At the long table sat several female students, and, at the far end, one male, Andrew. Andrew was last to speak. He was not one of the many superstar students. Andrew was an average kid who felt he had to speak up and tell the story from the male perspective. What Andrew had to say was a far cry from what most of us had heard, but some of his experiences rang true to me. What he said was that most boys don’t have it as good in school here as “you all” think. He gave several examples. They sounded like what my son had experienced. Questions and comments came forth from a few interested people. One person, Ron Bouchier, the school’s Athletic director, came prepared. One of the issues discussed was male dominance in several areas, including sports. Ron not only disputed that, he presented evidence of 16 years worth of team, league, sectional, and state championships and finalist results, and even national individual honors. The facts diametrically opposed the impression most of us had and clearly refuted what had been presented.

I was hooked. I knew Andrew and Ron to be straight shooters. They were on to something real and important. The trouble was that they were ignored at best, cynically assaulted at worse. I also knew the issues and stereotyping my son had gone through so far in school. I was determined to find out more. I started small. First I looked closely at the grades of my senior students. I had no idea what I would find. Little did I know it would launch me on a 16-year investigation on the issues plaguing boys in schools.

A couple of years later I was one of 3 Scarsdale staff members to go a conference on boys held at Wellesley College. I was the only teacher. The other 2 (women) were an assistant superintendent and a guidance counselor, both members of the district’s “Gender Equity Committee”. It had already become obvious to me that gender was a euphemism for “Female Equity”. While in a workshop on boys, I heard volumes about the problems of female students being harassed and bullied and intimidated by aggressive boys who needed to be fixed. A bit nervous about presenting a different view, I stood up and recited a summary of what I had learned over the past few years of investigation in my school and from reading the local papers about valedictorians and salutatorians in Westchester County. After much criticism and claims I must be fabricating evidence, I was summarily dismissed. However a woman sitting near me asked me to tell her more and asked if I wouldn’t mind being interviewed for a book she was writing. I said sure, and found the following in her book and article that appeared in the May 2000 edition of the Atlantic Monthly. That was Christina Hoff Sommers.

What had I found? In my classes, the boys’ final grades were anywhere from 3 to 5 points lower than the girls. Overall that meant the difference between a B- and B or B+. When I checked other social studies classes, the pattern held. In AP classes there was no significant differences. I colleague of mine, John Harrison, and I researched grades from all subjects in the school. The patterns held except in 2 or 3 of the highest-level science and math classes. I redid the work of Ron Bouchier and verified the information he had given those few years earlier. In fact the pattern stayed the same. Together, John and I looked at all kinds of information. We followed the class of 2002 and found that in each year approximately 2/3 of the bottom third of the class was boys and 2/3 of the top third was girls. This corresponded to the almost 3:1 ratio of girls to boys as valedictorians and salutatorians in the county of Westchester.

John and I presented our findings to the staff, and again, seven years later, they were hard pressed to acknowledge what we had found. Not much had changed. Then, as part of an ongoing series of talks and forums for parents the Scarsdale PT Council sponsored a forum on boys called “Are We Failing Our Boys?”. I had invited two other speakers with lots of letters following their names to give what I thought would give the talk more “cred”. The expected audience was about 30-50. Two hundred and fifty people (almost entirely moms) showed up and they were most interested in what I had to say about boys in Scarsdale. Mothers knew what was going on. So did I. But few are willing to acknowledge it in an academic world dominated by NOW and women studies at the University level.

I joined others in this work. I read a great deal on the subject. I gathered much information and from that work, teamed with Dr. Ed Stephens of the On Step Institute and Foundation for Male Studies, helped write a grant for the Leadership Learning Lab of the Central Park Historical Society, and spoke at two local colleges.

One of the most consistent findings in the research is that over the past 30 years how schools have moved to teaching methods that favor how girls learn. Add this to the increasing data about how boys are faring less and less well and you have an understanding about how much of a crisis this is within education, especially among minority males, our most failing demographic. What follows is a summary of what I have found over the years.

In 2002:

12th Graders below Basic Literacy in reading tests

MALES: 33%            FEMALES: 20%.

12th graders with a parent who graduated from college who scored below basic writing proficiency levels:

MALES: 27%           FEMALES: 9%

In 2003: 70 percent of public high school students graduated

Of those,

  • 72 percent of all female students
  • 65 percent of all male students (-7%)
  • 59 percent of African-American female students
  • 48 percent of African-American male students (-11%)
  • 58 percent for Hispanic female students
  • 49 percent of Hispanic male students (-9%)

(Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters, Manhattan Institute for Policy research civic report?No. 48 April 2006)

IN 2005:

BS Degrees by Age and Gender

Age: 65 or higher:               Male          Female

  •                                            24.3%        14%

Age: 45-64:                         Male          Female

  •                                          30.7%         26.6%

Age: 35-44:                        Male           Female

  •                                         29%            26.6%

Age: 25-34:                     Male            Female

  •                                       27.2%         32.5%

(US Census: American Fact finder)

IN 2008

  • 137 women have graduated college for every 100 men
  • 130+ Women earned master’s degrees for every 100 men
    (National Center for Education Statistics)

IN 2010

  • 185 women have graduated from college for every 100 men.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

(David Brooks, NYT)

Aside from those comparative annual statistics, in general from K-12:

  • Boys are greatly outnumbered in every extracurricular activity outside of sports, from student government to student newspapers and academic clubs.
  • By 12 years of age, boys are almost twice as likely to have repeated at least one grade.
  • Boys comprise the majority of permanent high-school dropouts.
  • Boys are approximately 3 times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or ADD
  • Boys are 10 times as likely to be referred for possible ADHD/ADD as girls
  • Boys (ages 15-19) are 5 times as likely as girls to commit suicide.
  • Boys are more than twice as likely to be suspended from school.
  • Boys are more than three times as likely to be expelled from school.
  • Preschool boys (ages 3-4) are expelled at a rate about 4 ½ times that of girls.

The U.S. Department of Education concedes that no serious research is available comparing different instructional methods that might help boys. Many education researchers have been found to be reluctant regarding research aimed at exploring gender differences in learning. In short, the researchers have found that because of changes in the educational system, the average boy of 50-75 years ago is very likely to be diagnosed with ADHD today, especially if they are bored and gifted boys (Armstrong, 1996, Hartnett et al. 2004, Howard and James, 2003).

There is also a great deal of agreement on the major reasons why these horrors are occurring:

  1. Gender roles in education, especially in elementary school, where 85% of teachers are women.
  2. Popular books (Reviving Ophelia 1994) and groups such as the American Association of University Women alerted the public to an educational failing that helped convince educators that schools were ignoring important girls’ problems, such as the loss of self-esteem among middle school girls who had been successful in elementary school
  3. Resistance from educators who also point to male success in the workforce as proof that advocacy for boys is unnecessary. (Even as statistics point out how men have been and will remain hardest hit by the “Great Recession” and the economic shifts in our nation.)

Over the past 20 years a great deal of knowledge has been accrued regarding biological and brain differences between boys and girls. Some of it shows the following. The language area of an average 5 year old boy’s brain is the same as a 3 ½ year old girl’s thus less able to learn to read K-2 (NIMH, 2006). Girls have more brain area in the frontal lobes devoted to language and expression of emotion as well as superior connectors between language areas to the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center (Neu,8).

Girls’ advanced prefrontal cortex also provides an advantage in decision-making and impulse control (Baron-Cohen, 2003). Girl brains are earlier to process emotional (tend/befriend tendencies) while boys rely more on brain stem and cerebellum resulting in more fight/flight tendencies under stress (Taylor et al., 2000). Boy behavior is far more likely to be determined by Nietzsche’s “will to power” (wanting to be in control of one’s environment) thus more likely to turn to video games and exhibit more confrontational and contradictory behaviors (Gleitman, 1980). As a result of differentiated development of boy and girl brains boys are worse listeners, and thus have greater difficulties in classrooms.

Other researchers point more directly at early academics in K-2. Boys are not as reading/writing ready as girls. This has led to higher stress and failures producing diminishing boy’s motivation. Oddly, or not, the nation that scores highest in the most widely used international reading and writing tests is Finland. They start formal school at the age of 7 (Gurian, p 20, Finnish National Bd. Of Education). Verbally structured classrooms tend to decrease motivation and performance of boys. The results show an increase in the use of boys’ resting brain states, poor note taking, poor attention to directions, and less homework done. These results were especially found in middle and high schools with boys who had higher IQ scores and had earlier successes in elementary school (Gurian, p 246). Hey..that was me grades 9-11. Often too, the boredom of bright boys is misdiagnosed as ADHD. (Howard and James, 2003)

Other educational mismatches between methods and gender differences abound. Overall changes in educational format and curricula over the past 30 years have been detrimental to boys’ learning. Among these are more reading and writing at earlier ages, less physical and non-linear learning, and the disappearance of gym and recess. The evidence shows that more schools have become less and less oriented to these boy strengths. Boys simply learn better when interested and motivated. The research has also shown that boys are primarily visual, logical, musical, kinesthetic, and naturalistic learners (James, p228).

All the research points to the fact that boys simply learn better through experiential doing (“Kenntnis”) than learning about something through reading whether print or computer screen based (“Wissenschaft”). HIstorically, boys learning has gone from physical apprenticeships, action, and practice to sitting in verbal/ written learning environments (Grossman and Grossman, 1994). The result is that normal fidgeting and physical movement, once necessary and normal, are now liabilities (Gurian, p53). There are ways of reforming schools to take these issues into account but they are not past of the No Child Left Behind syndrome.

Let’s take MATH and ELA. Over the years, even math problems have become more word oriented, for which girls’ brains are believed to have an advantage. ELA is theme based and often revolves around character feelings. Boys are more analytical and think more in terms of plot and action. Girls see more global outcomes and themes (Jonassen and Grabowski, 1993). Sax and Judith Kleinfeld (White House conference on Helping American Youth, 2006) contend that although the basic drilling for elementary reading skills works through 4th grade, the ELA curricula and practices in grades 4-12 have contributed to poorer boys’ results during those grades. In fact, although the tests results of 4th grade boys had improved, the 12th grade results show that 1 in 4 boys does not read at a basic level of proficiency as opposed to 1 in 16 girls. (USDE 2007)

Another area to rediscover is the issue of stereotyping. It is what got me interested in this issue in the first place. My son was stereotyped from an early age. Boys get the message that “typical boy behavior—loud, competitive, and physical–is bad, and that they need to become more like girls—quiet, cooperative, and gentle” (James, p115). “Typical boy behavior” is often misdiagnosed as ADHD. According to both Michael Gurian and Leonard Sax this occurs especially when the teacher first suggests ADHD testing. Sax postulates that occurs because most classroom settings are not boy friendly enough, most teachers (predominantly female in the early grades) are not fluent in the needs of boys, and too many K-1 classrooms are inappropriately academically advanced. (Ironically, since the early 1990’s girls have been getting the message to become more assertive, competitive, and more physical.)

In another example of stereotyping, a 1992 study showed that “60% of teachers believed that their male African American students would not go on to college.” In that particular study 65% of the teachers surveyed were African American (Garibaldi, 1992). One reason was the sub-cultural “call and response” (Schwartz, 2001; Townsend, 2000) style of many inner city males, actually physically active, loud, engaged and enthusiastic learning is often perceived as angry and hostile (Grossman and Grossman, 1994). Most upper middle class secondary schools (where many teachers come from) stress higher critical thinking skills, conceptual thinking, and applications while most lower socioeconomic secondary schools, stress safety, class management, and rote learning to achieve success on basic skills as shown on national standardized tests.

That is the reform that needs to be made most. The reform movement as it now stands simply makes this worse. The result is a lack of practice in deeper understanding of material and the underlying skills for advancement both to and in college. Today’s “reforms” have led to more competent mediocrity in inner city schools.

Whatever the causes, boys are found with:

  • Poorer motivation (Gurian, 244)
  • Poorer learning while sedentary as a result of their need to move around (Gurian, Sax, James, Tyre, Neu and others)
  • Poorer ability to hear softer higher sounds such as female voices (McFadden, 1998 and others)
  • Poorer episodic memory, less oriented to detail, thus poorer at test taking (Davis, 1999 and others)
  • Poorer at planning and paying attention (Naglieri and Rojahn, 2001)
  • Poorer at delaying gratification (Canada, 1999, 2000)
  • Poorer emotional communication skills.
  • A greater need for lists, clear directions, depth of learning vs. breadth (Gurian, 48)
  • Greater frustration, with less control and more discipline problems
  • Greater use of the brain’s “rest state” (zoning out or looking distracted)
  • A preference to shut down or say they didn’t do the work instead of admitting they don’t know (Gurian, p165).

What We Can Change In Districts? How can we learn from all the research and institute real reform beyond the Gates, Bloomberg, Duncan, and Rhee style we are currently engulfed by?

  • Use more Kenntnis (experiential learning) and less Wissenschaft (the linear pursuit of knowledge:
  • Install appropriate experiential learning programs K-12.
  • Restore old-fashioned Kindergarten.
  • Start formal school a year later. Both genders will benefit.
  • Start MS and HS at 9:00 AM. Use adolescent sleep studies.
  • Evaluate and improve the screening for ADHD.
  • Use more effective modes of discipline. Boys, again unlike girls, usually react better to “power assertion” (clearly stating the rules and explaining how they were broken) and “attention withdrawal” techniques as opposed to induction (How would you feel if you were Johnny?) Induction, because it is not direct, often creates anger and defensiveness and thus makes some boys suspicious over time thus escalating their reactions (Heyman and Legare, 2004).
  • Provide access to good male mentors, heroes, and role models.
  • Get parents and the community involved.
  • Restore recess and add more physical education classes…Jim needs GYM!
  • Consider single sex classrooms, subjects or schools. The research is still out.

What We Can Change In Classrooms?

  • Use differentiated instruction and assessments based on boys’ preferred learning styles and intelligences. As math has included more word problems and essay questions (female strengths) ELA and Social Studies should incorporate questions allowing for visual answers (ex: cartooning), and grade for logic and being concise.
  • Design units and lessons using Grant Wiggins’ Understanding by Design (1998)…Start at the outcomes and plan backwards, including appropriate authentic assessments.
  • Provide reading choice. Boys comprehend more when they read about their interests.
  • Questions should ask what would you “do” as opposed to what would you “feel?”
  • Use analogies where possible. It is a boy strength…either as teaching tool or in tests. So why did the College Board remove these from SAT tests?
  • Give problem-solving assignments.
  • Use direct language in giving directions. Be matter of fact. Do not coddle. Give them what they need in order to solve the problem.
  • Be vigilant about monitoring work and returning results swiftly and constructively.
  • Train students to take verbatim notes and then to summarize them.
  • Use voice modulation so boys can hear well.
  • Add touch and eye contact, depending on sub-cultural issues.
  • Use visuals, graphics, art, drama, music, and physical activities.
  • Build in strategic “Brain breaks.”
  • Use humor.
  • Use competition, with winners and losers, especially as part of a team.
  • Put boys in groups larger than three.
  • Do not over-compliment boys or sweeten comments without merit. Self esteem for boys must be addressed differently than for girls. Boys, unlike girls, will not do better if they think they are good in a subject. (Baumeister et al., 2003)

The Gates, Bloomberg, Duncan, and Rhee, TFA, and Teachers College Workshop model reform movement have thrown many of these methods out. It’s time we looked back at the research and matched up with the findings.

  • “If you think about how many boys are getting bad grades, failing tests, not performing in class, becoming discipline problems—and if you look beyond the reading and writing gap, you might notice other key elements of male nature that are now a mismatch with conventional schooling.” (Gurian, 52)
  • “Despite the research, schools that allow boys to function in accordance with their natural development are a dying breed.” (Tyre, 75)
  • Many school districts, from Atlanta to Wilmette, have finally realized they must react to these issues. In Wilmette, after a huge in district probe, a “final committee report provided irrefutable evidence that [even] upper middle class boys were not thriving in school.” The Board of Education’s response “was clear: Do whatever it takes to improve the performance of all children—including boys” (Tyre, 121,122).

Thus it is our task to create a more equitable education system for boys, without sacrificing the success of its girls. To accomplish this all involved must open their minds beyond the current trends and understand the research based socio/neurobiological foundations of cognitive gender differences as they relate to education. We must recognize the levels to which curricula and teaching respond to these research based foundations. And we must develop educational approaches based on solid research to provide a more boy-friendly instructional climate yet still be responsive to both genders. (James, 8 )

 

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David Greene is a guest contributor who is a former High School Social Studies teacher and coach in The Bronx, Greenburgh NY, and Scarsdale NY. He presently is an adjunct for Fordham University, mentoring Teach For Americans in the Bronx. He is a staff member of WISE Services, an advisor to the Foundation For Male Studies, a HS football coach, and was a member of the Save Our Schools March and Call to Action Program Committee.

 

Our Sons, Their Future, Our Five Dilemmas

By Warren Farrell, Ph.D. warrenfarrell.com

For more depth, see The Myth of Male Power

Before we are able to look seriously at nurturing the passions of our sons; before we are able to consider the need to balance the seven federal offices of women’s health with even one office of men’s health; before President Obama creates a White House Council on Boys to Men to balance his creation of a White House Council on Women and Girls, we need to understand why what it took to raise our sons successfully in the past is in tension with what it will take to raise our sons successfully for their future.

In the past, virtually every society that has survived has done so by training its sons to be disposable. Disposable in war; and disposable at work (from coal mines to construction sites; from oil rigs to “deadliest catches”). And if a man who is a dad dies in war, he is also, in effect, disposable as a dad.

So if we think about it, honoring our soldiers on Veterans Day, our workers on Labor Day or on the upcoming 10th Anniversary of September 11, presents a dilemma for every family who loves their country and loves their children. We are grateful beyond words for the firefighters and policemen who sacrifice their lives for the possibility that others might live. When someone does this for a stranger, and in defense of his or her country, that is the quintessential example of heroism.

The word “hero” derives etymologically in part from the Greek word “serow,” from which we get our words “servant” and “slave.” We think of a hero as someone who has power. In fact, a servant and slave possess the psychology of disposability, not the psychology of power.

What, then, are the dilemmas? The first dilemma: To give a man promotions to risk death, to tell him he’s powerful, he’s a hero, he’s loved, he’s a “real man”—is to teach a man to value himself by dying; it is to “bribe” a man to value himself more by valuing himself less.

How well have men responded to these bribes? For money (usually to support families), very well: think mercenaries, indentured servants, coal miners. But men also respond even when the bribe is the “social bribe” of respect; the emotional bribe of love; the physical bribe of sex: thus virtually 100% of volunteer firefighters are males.

Our second dilemma is that what it has taken to create a healthy society is also what it takes to create an unhealthy son. In the past, this was true of both sexes: so that the society would be “fruitful and multiply,” women were encouraged to risk disposability in childbirth. With feminism’s leadership, women have learned to make this a choice, not a definition of womanhood. That is, during the past half century, we have encouraged our daughters to associate femininity with “control over their lives” rather than reflexive disposability.

The third dilemma involves taking care of country vs. taking care of family. A father who dies carrying the weight of the country on his shoulder can no longer carry his children on his shoulder. If our son or daughter has children at home, is it right to have him or her put the children’s life in jeopardy? For our sons, the dilemma Is intensified by the association of masculinity with both heroism and a willingness to fight and die. These associations recruit our sons to protect our country and homes, but they also create what might be called a “social bribe” for a son who is a dad to jeopardize the well-being of his own family.

A fourth dilemma involves teaching our sons the real meaning of empowerment. Many dads have learned to define power as “feeling obligated to earn money that someone else spends while he dies sooner.” Real power is best defined as “control over our one’s life.” Our daughters are “getting it”? Will our sons “get it” if their dads don’t?

The fifth dilemma is that what it takes to become a hero at work is often the opposite of what it takes to become a loved one at home. For example, to be successful as a hero, it helps to repress feelings, not express feelings. (“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” not “when the going gets tough the tough see a psychologist.”) Repressing feelings helps in war, but to be successful in love, it helps to express feelings, not repress them.

Why have we learned to praise men as heroes when they compete to be disposable? Exactly because virtually all societies that have survived have done so by socializing men to be disposable. This investment in survival embeds in our psyches an unconscious investment in the disposability of our sons.

By questioning their genetic heritage a half-century ahead of men, our daughters are trying to fall in love with a sex that is less-well socialized to love; they are trying to fall in love with a sex that is, psychologically, about a half century behind our daughters.

On the other hand, if we don’t socialize sons to consider themselves heroes by risking disposability, will women take on 50% of the risk by obligation, not by choice: should we require them to share the legal obligation to register for the draft, or expect them to be equally likely to volunteer to save our homes from fires, build bridges and be the truckers, miners, lumberjacks, welders and sheet metal workers who build the Freedom Towers? And if so, will they become the women we want our daughters to be?

There are no perfect answers. But our heroes have left those of us who live the challenge of deciding how much to encourage our sons to risk death so that others may live to praise those who have died. Until we cherish sons who “follow their passion” as much as daughters who follow theirs, we won’t want an office of men’s health or a White House Council on Boys to Men.

Comment on this article here.

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Warren Farrell
Warren Farrell
Warren Farrell, Ph.D. is chair of the Commission to create a White House Council on Boys to Men. He is the author of the international bestsellers, The Myth of Male Power and Why Men Are The Way They Are, as well as Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say and Father and Child Reunion. He has appeared on more than 1,000 TV and radio shows, and is the only man ever elected three times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in New York City. Dr. Farrell has taught in five universities, including the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Warren has two daughters; he and his wife live in Mill Valley, CA. and virtually at http://warrenfarrell.com

Boys, Men, and Suicide

a report written for the Maryland Men’s Health Commission by Tom Golden, LCSW

Men and boys comprise nearly 80% of all completed suicides in the United States.1 With this sort of number one would assume that there would be services that focus specifically on suicidal males. Surprisingly, there are almost no programs that focus on helping men and boys who might be suicidal. Sadly, Maryland is no exception to this rule. Maryland traditionally has very active programs to address the issues of suicide but does not seem to have any programs specifically addressing men or boys.

Even more surprising is how difficult it is to secure funding

Boys, Men, and Suicide

a report written for the Maryland Men’s Health Commission by Tom Golden, LCSW

Men and boys comprise nearly 80% of all completed suicides in the United States.1 With this sort of number one would assume that there would be services that focus specifically on suicidal males. Surprisingly, there are almost no programs that focus on helping men and boys who might be Continue reading “Boys, Men, and Suicide”

Learning and Gender

Learning and Gender

Presented by The American School Board Journal; (National School Boards Association.) This article was co-written by Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, authors of The Minds of Boys. Stevens is also head of the Gurian Institute.

On the day your district administrators look at test scores, grades, and discipline referrals with gender in mind, some stunning patterns quickly will emerge.

Learning and Gender

Presented by The American School Board Journal; (National School Boards Association.) This article was co-written by Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, authors of The Minds of Boys. Stevens is also head of the Gurian Institute.

On the day your district administrators look at test scores, grades, and discipline referrals with gender in mind, some stunning patterns quickly will emerge.

Girls, they might find, are behind boys in elementary school math or science scores. They’ll find high school girls statistically behind boys in SAT scores. They might find, upon deeper review, that some girls have learning disabilities that are going undiagnosed.
Continue reading “Learning and Gender”

Gender-Friendly Schools

Kelley King, Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens

Boys are in crisis in many academic areas. But to turn things around, schools must implement instruction that is both boy- and girl-friendly.

Diane Cotner had been teaching “forever,” so she was confident in her teaching abilities. In 2007, however, confronted with an extraordinarily wiggly group of 2nd grade boys in a chronically low-performing school, Diane told her principal, “I can’t even get the boys to sit still for a short phonics lesson. I have to do something.”

Desha Bierbaum, her principal, responded with a new possibility. “I’ve been learning about the differences in how boys and girls learn. Why don’t you try letting the fidgety boys

Gender-Friendly Schools

Kelley King, Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens

Boys are in crisis in many academic areas. But to turn things around, schools must implement instruction that is both boy- and girl-friendly.

Diane Cotner had been teaching “forever,” so she was confident in her teaching abilities. In 2007, however, confronted with an extraordinarily wiggly group of 2nd grade boys in a chronically low-performing school, Diane told her principal, “I can’t even get the boys to sit still for a short phonics lesson. I have to do something.”
Continue reading “Gender-Friendly Schools”

Disappearing Act – Where Have the Men Gone? No Place Good

By Michael Gurian Appeared in The Washington Post Sunday, December 4, 2005

In the 1990s, I taught for six years at a small liberal arts college in Spokane, Wash. In my third year, I started noticing something that was happening right in front of me. There were more young women in my classes than young men, and on average, they were getting better grades than the guys. Many of the young men stared blankly at me as I lectured. They didn’t take notes as well as the young women. They didn’t seem to care as much about what I taught — literature, writing and psychology. They were bright kids, but many of their faces said, “Sitting here, listening, staring at these words — this is not really who I am.”

That was a decade ago, but just last month,

Disappearing Act

Where Have the Men Gone? No Place Good

By Michael Gurian Appeared in The Washington Post Sunday, December 4, 2005

In the 1990s, I taught for six years at a small liberal arts college in Spokane, Wash. In my third year, I started noticing something that was happening right in front of me. There were more young women in my classes than young men, and on average, they were getting better grades than the guys. Many of the young men stared blankly at me as Continue reading “Disappearing Act – Where Have the Men Gone? No Place Good”

Baby Cupid and the Fatherless Child

Lionel Tiger

When we set aside all the mushy high-school love-friending, Valentine’s Day is about reproduction and Cupid with his arrow is a pregnancy tester. The event flourished during a sexual period very different than our own. Despite all that traditional formal morality business, it’s estimated on the basis of parish and similar records that at the turn of the last century from a third to a half of all marriages were shared with a pregnancy. The infant Cupid

Baby Cupid and the Fatherless Child

Lionel Tiger

When we set aside all the mushy high-school love-friending, Valentine’s Day is about reproduction and Cupid with his arrow is a pregnancy tester. The event flourished during a sexual period very different than our own. Despite all that traditional formal morality business, it’s estimated on the basis of parish and similar records that at the turn of the last century from a third to a half of all marriages Continue reading “Baby Cupid and the Fatherless Child”

Male Market Share and the Failure of Women’s Studies

By Lionel Tiger

Has something finally changed in the sexual politics of academia? For more than a generation the verities of feminist theory and female interests have dominated administration policy, including who gets accepted to college and who graduates.

Anyone who has taken part in academic life for the last thirty years is well aware of the organizational power of women’s studies departments. That power has yielded

Male Market Share and the Failure of Women’s Studies

By Lionel Tiger

Has something finally changed in the sexual politics of academia? For more than a generation the verities of feminist theory and female interests have dominated administration policy, including who gets accepted to college and who graduates.

Anyone who has taken part in academic life for the last thirty years is well aware of the organizational power of Continue reading “Male Market Share and the Failure of Women’s Studies”